“We’re not looking to take food off someone’s plate to fuel an aircraft,” said Navy Lt. Damian Blazy in comparing the controversial use of corn to make ethanol to the non-food crop camelina. Blazy talked of ambitious goals for the Navy to dramatically reduce its dependence on conventional petroleum.

One reason: the vulnerability to attack against refueling systems. He showed a photograph of a tanker in flames after being attacked as it moved petroleum from Pakistan to Afghanistan.

The Navy has set a goal of acquiring 50 percent of its liquid fuel from alternative fuel blends derived from domestic sources by 2020.

Blazy showed pictures of aircraft powered by camelina and described how, just days before the Coalinga meeting, six F/A-18 Hornets in the Navy’s Blue Angels were powered during a fly-over by a 50-50 blend of jet fuel and camelina-based biofuel. It was the first time an entire unit had flown on a biofuel mix.

Other potential customers for the biofuel spoke at the Coalinga meeting, including Hortencia Barton, manager for the domestic fuel supply for American Airlines Purchasing, and Robert Schlingman, senior environmental manager for United Continental.

Barton said her company’s interest is driven by concerns over security and supply.

“Instability drives up costs,” she said.